Thursday, August 02, 2007

And Then You Start to Expect a Little More, Sometimes Maybe Too Much

I haven't been taking a lot of photos lately. For a while there, every day I had 20-30 photos to download. These days, the sets come in groups of six, and they're only downloaded every couple days.

It's not that things aren't worth taking photos of. That walk I took from my writing studio to the coffee shop in Ballard took me by good graffiti and wrecked-looking brambles and my expensive shoes got all dusty from the gravel and wanted their photo taken. But I just didn't feel like taking those photos. That's all somehow so outside of my head, and I am very much inside my head, I've been rattling around in here all week.

This is what it's like, here, rattling around in my head:
On my walk to the coffee shop, I think of a sentence I want to use for the opening of a story. I get to the coffee shop. I write it down. I stop writing and just sit there, leaning forward on my elbows, chin in my hand, listening to the music. This is music that plinks along slowly, and I think, This music is eating up time, plink plink, time goes. The door opens and a mass of cool air comes in and I watch the amber glass light that is swayed by it. I sit there. The music plinks. I look over at the barista and as he raises his eyebrows, one corner of his mouth smiles and he says "This music makes me feel like I am in a child's music box, and I am the little figure that dances" and then he raises his hands over his head. I smile not with a corner of my mouth but all the way and think about how much I have liked liking the baristas.

This is something the girl in my story and I have in common, though it doesn't work out quite so well for her. She doesn't really know how to right the boat once it's tipped over. The version of me that is writing the story, instead of being the character, can pretty much right the boat, in my own way. Most of the time.

I look at the photo on my desktop and think about going away for two months, and how in the story I'm writing, she doesn't go to a ranch to write, she goes somewhere else that we might not ever know about.

I am never sure when it is time to leave the coffee shop. I pick something, like, when those two girls who are wearing identical black dresses leave, I will leave. When it happens, I get in my car and I am thinking about outfits, those two identical black dresses, same buttons on the sleeve, same eyelet material, and I think about how my character thinks about what she wears, and how her particular look is about her attempt to be the prettiest inmate at the asylum. I think about how when she gets away from wherever she was for two months, she plays "You're So Vain" loud on her car stereo and sings the Mick Jagger part with a fake country accent. When I play "You're So Vain", I sing the Carly part.

I heard Stephen King on Fresh Air once, and he said that his stories come from writing about his worst fears. The thought of that was liberating somehow, because I already had the urge to write through my worst fears, but when you do that, then you've got this story that is, wow, it's just always gonna be dark, and if your worst fears are not rabid dogs or killer cars, if your worst fears are a lot more pedestrian than that, you might be afraid that writing them will make them more real. Though maybe Stephen King felt that way about his stories too, like he was going to make a killer dog come after him, or a rabid fan, for that matter.

So maybe it's not that different, except that in Stephen King's books (based on my deep knowledge of them from the movie trailers for the books, terribly accurate, right?) he seems to work more with monsters who live outside his body, while my worst fears lock themselves in the bathroom and turn the knives on themselves rather than waiting for someone else to do it.

Which is why writing a lot in a short period of time, rattling around in here, with the Lindsay Lohan's and other girls who get sent away for their own good, well, it sometimes makes me feel a little sick of the world, and then I don't feel like taking pictures quite as much.

And this is all a reminder of why if you take a walk, and look up from your dusty expensive shoes, and there's that Camaro, turquoise with the little gills on the side, and the license plate that matches your own sense of humor, you are going to be grateful. The thing that you are grateful for is that you know for sure that there's at least one good photo for you, one that takes you out of this place you've been rattling around in and puts you back in the world of Kozy Shack and Elvis and road trips and the feeling that there are places to go in the world.

And if you wake up the next morning and there doesn't happen to be a Camaro handy, you can always go back to the coffee shop and take a photo of your latte.

1 comment:

Allison said...

It's a purty latte... and - if you have to choose a time to leave the coffee shop - I don't see why it shouldn't be decided by some arbitrary factor, like the girls in black dresses leaving. It's better than finding yourself there, bored, four hours later.

love you!